2015 Mercedes C-Class: First Drive

New Mercedes C-Class ups refinement, blows rivals away with quality interior
Imthishan Giado

Mercedes C200

Mad AMG versions aside, the old C-Class was the most conservative of the Big Three German saloons. A shrunken S-Class rather than a corner carver in the mould of the 3-Series or high-style, high-gloss Audi A4, it’s the car you buy to make a statement.

And that hasn’t changed a bit with the introduction of the W205 C-Class at local dealer Gargash Enterprises. All new in its fourth edition, the C-Class is 95mm longer, 45mm wider and most importantly, up to 100kg lighter thanks to extensive use of aluminium throughout its stiffer chassis.

The exterior is a dead ringer for its biggest brother with the same teardrop front and rear ends and jewel like headlamp detailing. The biggest surprise of all is the interior – it doesn’t copy the S-Class but feels nearly as good in terms of quality, fit and finish and most importantly, style.

Mercedes C200

This is an exceptional cabin in this price range. The 3 Series has much weaker plastics and the A4 overloads you on chrome and piano black trim but the wee Merc gets its just right. I love the classic instruments and the feel of the three-spoke steering wheel, while the cascading centre console is largely devoid of unnecessary buttons.

Problems? Command is still as finicky as ever and the new touchpad added over the control wheel is an utter pain to use (thanks, Chinese consumers). Then there’s the screen – for some reason it’s plonked on the top of the dash rather than being neatly integrated into the centre stack and sticks out like a sore thumb. You won’t care once you use it though; the graphics are pixel-sharp and the response is fast enough for most.

I took the 2.0-litre turbo 181bhp/184lb ft C200 out for a brief test drive; it’s the only available model at launch with prices ranging from AED180,000 for a basic Avantgarde all the way up to an eye watering AED230,000 for an AMG-kitted version. Lesser C180s and more powerful C250s are on the way; no decision has been made on whether this market will get the twin-turbo V6 C400 bound for the US.

Air suspension is now optionally available on the C Class but you won’t miss it; the ride on the steel-sprung C200 is as excellent as you’d expect. The body feels more rigid through the turns and the electric steering can be set from complete-mush Eco to rather-good Sport+. This is definitely no sports saloon but as a refined cruiser, it’s at the top of the class.

There’s plenty of the poke from the turbo four though like all modern motors, the initial throttle tip-in feels soft. Wind it up over 2500rpm and the turbo comes on steam, delivering plenty of punch to keep up with Sheikh Zayed traffic.

 Verdict

I’ll withhold a full verdict until we get a test car, but based on this drive, I see no reason why the new C-Class shouldn’t do very well indeed, apart from its sky-high pricing. It’s a mini-S-Class – what’s not to love about that?

One response to “2015 Mercedes C-Class: First Drive”

  1. Tarek says:

    180k for the C200! That’s insane!!

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